Bill Clinton photo

Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials

March 26, 1993

The Briefing Room

11:58 A.M. EST

MS. MYERS: First, President Izetbegovic is here. He met with Vice President Gore. He met briefly with President Clinton and Chancellor Kohl in the Oval Office. We'll have more -- perhaps a little bit more to say about that later.

We are now going to do a briefing on the effect on sanctions against Serbia. It is a BACKGROUND BRIEFING: Senior Administration Official; Senior State Department Official; Senior Treasury Official.

Q: Just one more.

MS. MYERS: Sure.

Q: How did this meeting come about? When was it decided that Mr. Izetbegovic would get into see the President? How did all this occur?

Q: Yes, why was it a secret?

MS. MYERS: It was hastily planned. I don't have all the details. George will be briefing at 12:45 p.m., and hopefully we'll have answers to that question then.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I am going to give you a brief overview and statement, and then we'll start taking your questions. And we will go into as much detail as we're able. There will be certain limitations that will help us protect what we have that's ongoing and also that will respect some of the methods that we have to be sensitive about. But we want to be as complete as you are interested in having us be.

Essentially the purpose of the sanctions as we understand them is to try to create a frame of mind in Belgrade. And that frame of mind ideally is one which says that the costs and benefits of continuing to engage in what they have been engaging in are shifting. So the more effective the sanctions are, at least in our theoretical constructs, the more likely we are to be able to engender in their minds a different attitude towards how important it is to be reasonable and to be quick in the negotiating process. Obviously, we can't claim a correlation between how good the sanctions are to give in time and what is the attitude in Belgrade.

The only thing we know is that by employing the sanctions, we are costing the Serb economy, and costing it dearly, and that we have reached a threshold where we feel we are costing at such a level that it has to be entering into as a factor in the calculations of the government of Serbia.

My colleagues will describe for you, among other things, what we consider to be the current state of the Serbian economy. I will not try to convince you that the problems of the Serb economy are the result in a one-to-one ratio of the activity of the sanctions. There are plenty of things that they have done to themselves.

However, the sanctions address the fundamental pillars of the economy. They address Serbian trade, manufacturing, financial flows, and they have become increasingly effective. I will also not attempt to persuade you that the sanctions are proceeding in an unbroken upward line in terms of their effectiveness and impact. We lose a couple periodically. But I would like to persuade you that the total trend in terms of what is happening is towards a greater effectiveness in implementing the sanctions and a greater impact on the economy of Serbia. We are, in fact, prepared to talk about some of the problems and setbacks that we've had as well.

And I would draw your attention, among other things, to a GAO study which Senator Kennedy's office asked for, and which is nearing completion. It will be a very good study of the way the sanctions were at about the point where the new administration entered the picture. And we are grateful to Senator Kennedy's office for allowing us to have access to some of its findings. They have helped us understand what we should shift in our own tactics to the -- as we apply them to the problem.

So why don't I start taking questions, and I may very rapidly start turning to my colleagues.

Q: Did the maritime interdiction in the Adriatic involved that special Marine force that went over on the Roosevelt? How will that be implemented?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, right now we have about seven ships off of the Adriatic. I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to your specific question. We've --

Q: task force left a week or two ago. And they have a special Marine task force on board equipped to do this stuff.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What we are seeking is precisely that -- to get additional resources into the Adriatic to be able to effectively block off the traffic. As you know, the Adriatic right off of Bar is a major shipping route and it's often very difficult to distinguish between what is a legitimate ship and what's not.

Q: Is the Roosevelt one of those seven ships?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We'd have to check. To my -- I have not heard it discussed in that connection.

Q: Could you refresh my memory. When Gore was a Senator, did he support the use of sanctions in the Gulf War as an effective means of dealing with Saddam --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The question is when Gore was a Senator, did he support the use of sanctions as an effective method of dealing with Saddam Hussein. He certainly felt, as we're going back to that period of time -- I was with him, as you know -- he certainly supported the idea of sanctions as an element to use; but in the end, as you know, he voted for the use of force. Among other things, he had concluded that the impact of the sanctions would not overtake Saddam Hussein soon enough.

Q: Just to follow up then, why do you think that they'll be effective in this context and what -- exactly is the difference?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As I said at the beginning, I wasn't going to try to persuade you that the sanctions were some kind of smart bomb so that you could target them at Serbia's will to commit aggression and have the sanctions go off and detonate exactly in sequence and have a forecastable effect. They are a blunt and imprecise instrument. We can demonstrate that they are having an effect. But we can't demonstrate that kind of correlation.

How much does the turmoil -- political turmoil in Russia -- affect the United States's ability to put more pressure on the Serbs? Is there a reluctance to do things such as lifting the arms embargo because of what the effect might be in undercutting Boris Yeltsin or creating more problems for him?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll repeat the question. And correct me if I make an error in repeating it. It was really what effect does what is going on in Russia have on our ability to tighten the effectiveness of the sanctions and so on against the Serbs.

I want to make an important distinction for you. I should have done that at the beginning. And that is that what we have been up to is to improve the implementation of those sanctions that are already authorized by existing Security Council resolutions; we have avoided, to this point, going back to the Security Council asking for more sweeping authority. We thought there was plenty of room left to improve what was already being done. In that respect, while we are aware of what goes on with the Russians, we have been able to proceed without a problem.

Q: How will lifting the arms embargo, which is something that at least has been discussed and apparently the Vice President did discuss that with the Bosnian President this morning --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Forgive me if I draw a line at the boundary of my own competence. I'm here to answer your questions about the sanctions. The arms embargo is a broader question about our general approach to the problem, and I'd rather that you put that question to the White House rather than to me.

Q: Will the U.S. be going to the U.N., then, to ask for new sanctions, or are you simply telling us that you're talking about better ways of implementing those that are already in place?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are consulting on that question --

Q: Question?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Where is -- one second -- where is our friend from the --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Secretary Christopher said today that among the steps we would be taking are increased diplomatic pressure and tighter sanctions. And we would be seeking -- proposing tighter sanctions for this purpose.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So the answer is we're in consultation on what that might be.

Q: Will that more extensively involve financial sanctions, or can you give us an update on where the financial assets of Serbia stand; whether or not we're making any attempts for an international freeze on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- if it's okay if I can separate the questions, the issue of what is happening in terms of our effort to deal with their financial flow, as we had talked about that. And I think that effort is reasonably effective as it stands. So if those of you who are trying to get my recognition will be patient, it probably is more productive for me to ask my colleague to start talking a little bit about the financial sanctions.


In recent months we've been working bilaterally and multilaterally with key allies where Serbian-owned or controlled assets or front companies, financial institutions are located to promote international cooperation, close loopholes in the existing programs, and seek uniformity in implementation and interpretation of existing U.N. requirements. We're targeting trading, financial and the banking network.

In the trading network, that's that dozen or so companies pre-embargo -- established companies operating under the direction of Serbia worldwide that continue to arrange, broker and conduct Serbian commercial activities, and those Serbian-controlled banks and financial institutions that are the same institutions financing the war effort and transferring hard -- attempting to transfer hard currency into Serbia.

Meeting bilaterally. We're taking all information that's available to us, working with foreign governments to -- in a coordinated fashion to develop enforcement strategies to tighten from our end and their end. We're working together. We've had a great deal of cooperation.

Q: Can you be concrete in some way?

Q: in dollars? Can you? Can you give us some sort of figures as to what you're talking about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Domestically, perhaps $525 million are blocked. The activities of the trading companies in the United States are very highly regulated. We're seeking to have close scrutiny and case-by-case regulation of these dozen or so companies in all locations where Serbia has companies that are under their ownership or control, or front companies that are seeking to broker or arrange deals. As far as specific dollar amounts, we're still putting that together. These are accounts that are not always readily available through institutions -- that they seek to mask this and hide this. But we're trying to identify who they are, where they are, how they're operating, how they're trading, how they're operating, how they're trading, how they're doing trade financing, and specifically going after each transaction and company.

Q: Can I follow that? Are you saying that domestically in this country you have seized $525 million dollars worth of Serbian assets or you have blocked it from leaving the country?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: To answer your first question, yes.

Q: You have seized that. And what about internationally? Is there a lower magnitude estimate you can --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I have a figure that's in the back of my mind. I'd like to check it and get back to you. Off the top of my head, I don't recall. But domestically, which was what the Treasury's responsible, it is $525 million. It depends very often on how it's defined, what you determine as a definitional matter to be Serbian-owned or controlled institutions. Historically, the United States in all sanctions program has taken a very broad definition. We're seeking to employ others to take a similarly broad definition so that that number can be as large as possible.

Q: I know you say you're trying to identify these companies. Are there some you've identified now that you can name?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We've identified 425 companies. It's published as General Notice No. 2 of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control Publication. It's available at the department and was published.

Let me also mention in that regard, we have two other initiatives ongoing that have recently been adopted. On March 11th, we publicized the names of 25 shipping companies and 55 vessels that are owned, controlled and under the operation of the government of Yugoslavia. If they come into the United States they've blocked. We're taking action to see that other foreign governments take similar action. We are moving forward in every front company, every owned or controlled institution -- to identify them, to publicize them, and to seek foreign governments to take sufficient supervisory regulatory oversight over these institutions. Also we're publishing a list, and it's undergoing, of two-time violators. These are the companies that continue to violate the sanction. They will similarly be listed and prohibited transactions with the United States.

Q: Of that $525 million -- the $525 million, I know you're searching for everything you can find, but do you have any guesstimate as to $525 million out of how much might be out there?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would venture to say -- do you have a figure on that -- I don't think we really can right now. It would probably be $2 billion to $3 billion. That might be high. We continue to work bilaterally with countries to identify it. I just don't have a figure to give you right now.

Q: How many Serbian ships are being detained in U.S. ports?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: One second. On the issue of shipping, before we leave I would like to take -- I want to make sure that your question is answered; but before we do leave, in order for you to get the full spectrum of what we are trying to talk about, I'd be asking my colleague to talk to you about what is ongoing in terms of upgrading the implementation of sanctions in terms of trade in Europe. We have another team which is preparing to leave. We have processes which are underway designed to have that effect. We have -- we are announcing increased U.S. participation in this effort. So there are some other things I would like for you to know about. But on the specific question of ships --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think we have --there are eight Yugoslav-owned and controlled vessels that are being detained in U.S. ports.



Q: How long have you had them? How long have they been in --


Q: July.


Q: What type of goods is involved, sir? What type of goods are they laden with?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Generally consumer goods, production, manufacturing, basic raw materials, the whole range of shipping items that would be included on a national fleet.

Q: What precisely, I mean, precisely is the objective of these sanctions and do you have any kind of predictions, timeline on when you think if all these sanctions were implemented to their fullest; when do you think the Serbians would --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What I said at the beginning is all I can say now in answer to that question. That is, the objective of the sanctions is to serve as a general form of pressure on the attitude of Serbian authorities to effect their calculation about the costs and benefits of what they have been doing; and in a broad way, hopefully, make them perceive a reasonable and honored peace as being in their increasingly urgent interest.

Q: Does that mean that they continue to control all the territory? I mean, at this point it seems very ambiguous to me.


Q: Well, why?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Because by its nature it's ambiguous. As I said, these are not the analogs to SMART bombs. All we can do with these things in a very blunt and broad way is increase the cost to Serbia of underwriting aggression in Bosnia.

Q: Do you think the sanctions could be enough to make them -- reducing, maybe -- there is a need for more steps with more -- more muscle?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's unknowable. All we're here to talk to you about is what we can do to our job better, which is defined as make the sanctions work more effectively.

Q: I'd like to follow up on my question. If the trend -- you talk about the trend of -- there's a trend that the sanctions will become effective. If that is true, why then are we hearing the President, the Vice President, in discussions talking about possibly lifting the arms embargo? I mean, it seems to me that if the trend of these sanctions is so successful in convincing the Serbs to change their pattern of behavior, why then are we having to consider lifting the arms embargo?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't believe that I have suggested that we know what effect we are having on Serbia.

Q: How long do you think it's going to take --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- that we know --we're attempting to measure what economic effect we have. But I do not believe that we can tell you what precise impact we're having on the calculations of these officials. So the fact that part of the U.S. government is working to make the sanctions more effective doesn't mean that other parts of the U.S. government should not be considering further steps.

Q: You've mentioned several times the need to make the sanctions more effective. Where do the biggest problems lay --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The biggest problems that we've had are the geographic position of Serbia and the fact that it lies -- number of major communications routes. So you have transshipments through there from Greece and from Bulgaria and Romania and the other Balkan countries. And those transshipments provide an opportunity for an enormous amount of leakage. And we've concentrated a lot of efforts now on putting in place procedures, customs controls and others to make sure that we know precisely what leaves the bordering country, crosses into Serbia and how we can assure that it comes out at the other end without suffering much loss. And we've been able to cut down on the loss there quite a bit through very tight controls and through stationing the sanctions assistance monitors, customs officers, donated by 15 different countries, including from the United States on all the borders with Serbia. They are communicating with each other directly and with a central office in Brussels and are able to check out all shipments with the international customs communities.

In addition, we have provided considerable technical assistance now. We're providing about $1.5 million in help to the bordering states to upgrade their own customs controls and help them cut down on the border traffic itself and on smuggling. The river, as you know, the Danube River, runs right through the heart of Belgrade. And it's a very important artery. And we've needed to put in place a way of controlling the shipping and the leakage down the Danube. I think that's turned around quite a bit. We've gotten the Romanians to close off iron gate's locks to Serbian shipping. We've put sanctions monitors in the Ukraine, in Reni and Ismail, to check on what's being put onboard these ships. And we've gotten the Romanians and the Bulgarians to work together on the river to begin stopping any of the kinds of runs -- as you remember, there was a run of some Serbian vessels about two or three months ago in quite a dramatic fashion. Now the Romanians and Bulgarians are stopping by whatever measures necessary any shipping to inspect them.

In addition to that -- and I think a major part of our effort has been to push this notion of deterrence. Let people know that they're going to be punished if they violate sanctions and that there's a high cost to it. So we've gotten -- helped generate in allied countries and countries throughout Europe a number of prosecutions and have ourselves been directly involved in tracing the ships that are involved in this process. These ships when we find them are deflagged and are detained. And we have several ships now around the world which are detained, their crews arrested, and the ship's deflagged and immobilized.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. This represents one of the changes that we have tried to pursue. In the past, the ships were frequently turned around, which meant that they had another opportunity to try to sneak through. Our approach now, if I can borrow somebody else's slogan, is roach motel, which is once they check in, we do our best to make sure that they do not check out. And that's proving effective.

Q: clarify where we are. Would it be safe to say, given the fact the Bosnian Muslims are on the verge of being -- according to their own President, who just stood on the driveway, and told us this -- Prime Minister -- that the sanctions up to now have had no impact on the course of the fighting whatsoever -- in any appreciable sense.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm here to talk to you about the impact of the sanctions on the Serbian economy.

Q: That hasn't affected their behavior in the fighting.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: But I don't think I want to start a debate outside of -- maybe over lunch -- as to the bigger picture. I do think perhaps we ought to talk about the condition of the Serbian economy.

Q: Surely the Serbian economy is --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: One second. And let you draw some conclusions as to the ability of that economy to continue bank-rolling aggression. I don't have the answer to that. But the effects that we are seeing on the economy of Serbia are reaching a very interesting threshold. And so if it's all right with you, let's present what we think are the facts. I can't argue you into another kind of conviction about it, but I can give you information about what's going on.

Q: Well, your argument, sir, that the economy is in distinctly worse condition than it was, say, at the beginning of the year?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let's talk about it. Do you want to? Whichever one --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We've passed out a number of charts and other information which you have regarding the economy and other aspects of the program. I think the most dramatic thing to note in the economy today is the hyperinflation. We're in new areas of hyperinflation -- never really ever achieved before in terms of the amount of inflation, with prices going up an estimated 300 percent this month alone. That means 10 percent a day -- prices changing on a daily basis. Inflation on an annualized rate gets into the high millions. We're well over 80 million percent. This is very high on an economy that's -- where the dinar -- a 50,000 dinar note is the largest note and it's only worth $2.00. So there's a cash shortage, and that cash shortage alone and this economic situation alone caused one of the leading socialist trade union movements to call a strike today. So there is a strike in Belgrade today of the major industries are closed. The item of a food basket -- the typical Serb now gets about one-quarter for what he makes -- of what he received at the beginning of the year. What costs a year ago 3,000 dinars cost him 4.4 million dinars today.

Q: I'm just trying to get a comparison of the first of the year, though. -- answer that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: A number of your charts do trace this from the first of the year. I didn't write those statistics down from that perspective, but just to tell you where we are in a general sense. A couple of figures from the beginning of 1993: Cost of transportation and PTC services have gone up 688 percent; tobacco and drinks -- 586 percent; food -- 409 percent; rent, utilities -- 556 percent; ten rolls of toilet paper now costs three days' wages; unemployment is above 65 percent; industrial production is down, ranging -- and that's a little hard to tell, there are different figures -- but we can put it as much as in the most optimistic figures, 70 percent down. Industrial wages just can't keep up; the infrastructure is deteriorating; production is down; the roads are down; the trains can't move; and the amount of petroleum that's available is also very distressed. Even with the ship that came into Bar there are still long lines and a trend of an increased price in petroleum.

Q: How are they conducting the war, gentlemen?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well for one thing, the army of Yugoslavia, before the breakup, had been sized to deal with a major external threat -- threat, potentially from the Warsaw Pact. They had immense quantities of ammunition, artillery, heavy armor, enough to make them perhaps the major military power in the region. And with the collapse of the Soviet Union and of the Warsaw Pact, they no longer had to worry about an external threat.

And as you know, one of the things that happened at the point where Bosnia was separating itself and seeking independence is that the federal army of Yugoslavia ostensibly pulled out of Bosnia, but in the process it left behind immense quantities of these weapons. So those weapons didn't have to be purchased. They didn't have to be manufactured. They were already there -- is one reason for their ability to continue to prosecute the war.

So the immediate question here is, will the sanctions diminish those existing stocks of material? The answer is, they can't. Will the sanctions weaken the financial structure of Serbia and create political difficulties for the political leadership of Serbia? I believe the answer to that is yes. If the question is, at what point will those pressures become intolerable? The answer is, I can't tell you. We're just here to tell you what we're trying to do in order to increase those pressures.

Q: Is there a measurable political effect, though, at this point?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have noticed that there is a motif in some of the things that top leaders of Serbia are saying, and that is -- and when do the sanctions get lifted?

Q: You're not announcing any new sanctions today, your simply announcing a strengthening of existing sanctions or outlining what you've done so far?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's work in progress at this point. As you know from Secretary Christopher's announcement, we're looking at stronger sanctions. But meanwhile, we've been pretty quiet about what we have done within the existing framework. And what I've come here to do with my colleagues is to talk to you about what we've been trying to do inside that framework.

Q: If the idea is put political pressure to effect in the military aggression, then why don't you go forward today with more calls for more stringent sanctions? Why do you have a delay in studying the option?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I didn't say we were studying it. I said we were consulting. We've done quite a lot of analysis.

Q: But it's the same thing. Why not -- you've had several months in office now, why not go forward now and put stronger pressure on them so that the military aggression can be stopped more immediately?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Check us in a short period of time and see where we are.

Q: Can you give us an idea of the kinds of things that you would like to seek from the Security Council that might tighten the sanctions beyond the regimes which you currently have? What are you looking at -- sealing off the border on the Danube; closing off their telephone communications? What are the kinds of things you're considering?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's not a bad list. Without getting drawn into the kinds of things we are looking at, when you actually look at the list it's very technical language. You'll have to sit back and scrutinize it to get a sense of what impact it would have.

Q: Generic.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Generically, you would like to close down the points at which money or goods manage to leak into or get squeezed out of Serbia. That means we are interested in the land borders, we are interested in water communications. We are interested in financial transfers. We are interested in their maritime operations. And there are ways of getting at all of these that we are currently using and there are some improvements in those that we could get if the Security Council wants to go further.

Q: What about telephones and postal and things like that that would isolate the Serbs beyond the kinds of things that you're talking about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's possible but you also have to take account of who else suddenly no longer can put a phone call anywhere.

Q: There was a study done by a fellow over at Carnegie sometime ago -- he looked at every case of sanctions being used in the 20th century. His conclusion was, essentially, that it was largely symbolic, but it very rarely had a direct impact on the outcome of these situations. How do you see the present effort different from that experience?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not sure I accept his premise. It seems to me that sanctions played a role in the eventual creation of Zimbabwe out of Rhodesia, if you think back to the long application of sanctions there. And I think it is also true that sanctions and political isolation have played a role in the evolution that we're seeing now in South Africa.

Q: Yes, but you said it takes years. I mean -- time is of the essence. I mean, we're talking about weeks and months; and I was just wondering why -- government didn't try to look for stronger steps from the sanctions before?


Q: Well, I mean, you said that you were looking for more sanctions now. You were -- with your --. Why did you wait now, why didn't you try before just from the sanctions, considering how long they need to take -- to have any effect?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Precisely because of the sense of urgency that you expressed. We had to consider wherefore given number of people days of effort in this government, we could get the quickest return; and the answer was, that we could get the quickest return to our effort if we sought the cooperation of others to improve the effect of the existing sanctions; that it would take longer and more consultations with less immediate payoff if we were to go back to the Security Council for more than we already had. Council for more than we already had. Moreover, we also felt that the case eventually for asking for anything more from the Security Council would be stronger if at that moment we had gone as far as we logically could go in using the existing Council authority. What would be the point of going back to the Security Council to ask for more authority if it could be immediately said that the existing authority hadn't been used to its fullest. And we have been trying to do that within a relatively short period of time.

Q: The $525 million that you mentioned earlier as frozen -- Serbian assets frozen -- what's the time frame on that? Has that been since the Clinton administration came to office, is that overall for the last --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The initial amount of $500 million was blocked the day the sanctions were imposed by the U.N.

Q: Which was?


Q: Nothing's been blocked since then?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Twenty-five million in continuing operations continue to be blocked on an ongoing basis through compliance and enforcement efforts.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me ask you a question, folks. We're prepared to continue to answer questions, but I would like to know whether or not you have other things that you would like to get into with us? When I came in here, Dee Dee said she would pull the plug at the appropriate time, but I don't see Dee Dee. (Laughter.) So, it's up to us to figure out how much further to go. A little while further?

Q: Yes.

Q: Please.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All right. You have this one.

Q: I don't know if you can speak to this. You're talking about tightening existing sanctions, but you have also talked about the U.S. attempt to tighten sanctions overall. The President isn't -- (laughter) --

MS. MYERS: -- leave?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You rang? (Laughter.) Would you please repeat your question?

Q: The President -- the Bosnian President outside spoke of attempts to enforce the no-fly zone and predicted a week to 10 days, some kind of actions on that. Can you speak to that at all?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. I'm here to talk about sanctions. It makes me a dull conversationalist, but at least a relatively accurate one.

Q: couldn't talk to it.


Q: Despite the imposition of the sanctions, what you call the aggression by Serbia continues. Is there discussion within the government of setting a date -- a deadline by which that aggressive behavior should stop or some further action, perhaps unspecified, would take place?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Basically the same answer. More questions relating to sanctions? And if not, then we should --

Q: Well, that's a sanctions-related question.


Q: Is there a dollar figure that you can give us for the impact you believe that the sanctions have had on the Serbian economy thus far? Have you done any ballpark guesses as to how much damage you have done other than anecdotal?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. It seems to me that the best estimates we've got would be in terms of their gross output. And as we tried to figure out, such things as employment -- we tried to figure out of those who are technically employed, how many of them are not really employed. We try to look at such things as trends in the cost to them of a basic basket of goods and services. And once a currency reaches the position of the dinar, it's a little hard to relate it in terms of the dollar. So we are tending to look at these things in terms of observable and quantifiable consequences. And by any measure that we can come up with, we can see that they are in bad trouble.

Q: Is it your assessment that the sanctions alone will bring about the results that you seek?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I wish it were so. It would make my day. But I don't think so. I mean, it's a tool, and we're using it.

THE PRESS: Thank you

END12:35 P.M. EST

William J. Clinton, Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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